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3 Ways to Digitize the In-Store Shopping Experience

The retail industry will forever be defined as pre-2020 and post-2020 as the need for contactless shopping accelerated digital retail experiences. And in 2022, it’s not as simple as separating your experiences into in-store vs online shopping.

It’s true that the majority of shoppers made their way back to physical stores in the second half of 2021. Even as ecommerce sales have skyrocketed, the number of total physical store locations in the US has also grown over the past three years, and the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that retail sales grew by 14% last year.

This leads to two coexisting circumstances:

1. A role still exists for physical stores in today’s era of shopping.

2. The digital features that have been by consumers’ side for the past two years must find a way to contribute in a brick-and-mortar environment.

It all revolves around making consumers’ lives easier. To do this, brands need to figure out how they can blur the lines between physical and digital experiences and offer the best of both worlds wherever the consumer choosers to shop. ICSC (Innovating Commerce Serving Communities) dubbed this the “The Halo Effect,” where the in-store and digital retail components complement each other for mutual gains. In fact, ICSC found that opening a new physical store grows website traffic by 37% and web traffic shares by 27%.

Today, we’re going to focus on three key ways to digitize the in-store shopping experience so individuals who choose to go to brick-and-mortar stores have all the convenience of online shopping.

Ensure Consistent In-Store Service

Customer service is an essential part of every brand experience as the primary resource for removing roadblocks along the consumers’ path to purchase. But it’s not enough for brands to bet on a store associate being in the right place at the right time to answer questions or offer guidance, especially when companies across the US are understaffed as it is. The solution is to put the power in consumers’ hands to easily find the answers they are looking for.

Give consumers options to:

  • Use a progressive web app (instead of a kiosk or app-store download)
  • Save the product for later online
  • Order while in the store and ship to their home

 

Deliver a seamless checkout

It wasn’t too long ago when self-checkout kiosks were the new age of in-store shopping. They were born out of an always-on-the-go era for people who didn’t have time to wait in long lines, while the latest innovations for shopping came during a global pandemic where it wasn’t safe to leave the house. And now that consumers are able to choose whether they go to a store or shop online, they also want to choose how they can check out, because people are still busy and would rather not touch a screen also touched by thousands of others That means connecting your physical and digital stores with checkout options from each and follow up opportunities after checkout.

Give consumers options to:

  • Choose mobile contactless checkout
  • Engage with the brand in a meaningful way right after checkout

 

Extend the experience outside of the store

One thing that in-store experiences offer that digital ones don’t is the opportunity for immediate and tangible experiences. At checkout, consumers have just browsed and selected the perfect product after physically holding it in their hands and then an associate puts in a branded bag and hands it over for immediate use. You can bring this in-person store perk to the digital space by using a physical interaction to spark online experiences. Spruce up what would otherwise be boring shipping packaging with your branding and allow customers to keep their experience going. 

Give consumers options to:

  • Follow up with your brand using a QR code or URL on shipped packages
  • Engage with digital signage for buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) experiences
  • Interact with a customer community

To stand out not only with consumers but also in terms of your business growth, every strategy must be measured and purposeful. Digital advancements can help brands track physical shopping patterns, shopping carts, foot traffic, and more to better cater the in-store experience to the behaviors of their specific consumers.

If you want to dive deeper into each option for bridging the gap between physical and digital stores, read our ebook, Digitizing the In-Store Shopping Experience.

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